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Having started the day in Kettering talking to the trustees of Youth Music, I have just come back from the advisory board of an ESRC funded project called ‘Researching Civic Behaviour’.

The main part of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of a brilliant paper written by Gerry Stoker, Peter John and Graham Smith entitled ‘Nudge, nudge, think, think: Two strategies for changing civic behaviour’.

In the paper the authors compare deliberation (which for the purposes of a clever title they call 'think') and nudging as ways of influencing behaviour and come up with the following dimensions:

View of preferences

Nudge

Fixed

Think

Malleable

View of subjects

Nudge

Cognitive misers, users of shortcuts, prone to flawed sometimes befuddled thinking

Think

Reasonable, knowledge hungry and capable of collective reflection

Costs to the individual

Nudge

Low but repeated

Think

High but only intermittently

Unit of analysis

Nudge

Individual-focused

Think

Group-focused

Change process

Nudge

Cost-benefit led shift in choice environment

Think

Value led outline of new shared policy platform

Civic conception

Nudge

Increasing the attractiveness of positive-sum action

Think

Addressing the general interest

Role of the state

Nudge

Customise messages, expert and teacher

Think

Create new institutional spaces to support citizen-led investigation, respond to citizens

It’s fascinating stuff and regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised that I wondered whether there was a cultural theory perspective here:

• Hierarchy – rules

• Individualism – nudging

• Egalitarianism – deliberation

There’s a lot more to discuss but I’ll see if anyone out there is interested first.

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